By MaryBeth McCue
The need to practice personal responsibility to acquire and maintain health may be at an all time high, even while the new Obama administration in Washington is working to “improve” our Health Care model. Chronic illness and disease are on the rise and have been for some time. People are living longer, but at the expense of living more years not feeling well and lacking vital function -needlessly. Many have come to believe that “forty or fifty something” means the start of chronic disease, when it does not have to be. And even more alarming, but now “common”, are seeing young people in our culture burdened with chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, depression, ADD and more, which a very short time ago where seen as diseases of the “aging ” population. Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), Integrative Medicine (IM), Mind- Body-Medicine (MBM), Functional Medicine (FM) – most are out of pocket services to help restore health- continue to be utilized more and more each year. This upward trend is yet another significant “indicator” of the continued deficiency in our western-conventional health care model. A broken system where many with chronic conditions are told by their physicians: There is nothing wrong with you”… “There is nothing more you can do”,….” You just have to live with it”, etc etc etc .
The experts, and the non-experts, like our government – are in agreement that the inclusion of Integrative Medicine as a covered health care service will help our nation heal their health, their economy and unite back into the world more whole and complete and able to serve. This end result will itself continue to feed the healing process.
President Obamas’ Health
Care Reform, “Plan for a Healthy America” can be viewed at www.barackobama.com/issues/healthcare. His quote on the homepage: “I am asking you
to believe. Not just about my ability to
bring about real change in Washington…I’m
asking you to believe in yours”, is the directive that personal responsibility
is critical here. The message that
government may not be able to offer all that we need and that “The Obama
Effect”….”We need to be the change”…”Yes we can”… etc seems to be the mantra
that amongst many things has helped propel us into forming meaningful
grass-root actions to help influence ourselves and our government to be a
better and healthier people and nation. There is even a group that is
determined to get an organic farm plot on the front lawn of the Whitehouse
! Obama & our government are
“listening and engaging,” but what will the outcomes be? The issues with health care are wide. Our life-style and cultural norms around food
(most of which is non-food) and western medicine is literally killing us.
I, as a professional nutritionist for over 20 years, thought I was practicing
& living a very vibrant and healthy life, only to wake up one day and find
I could not wake up because my body had 10 x the amount of toxins in it from
the mercury poison in my dental fillings – which the American Dental
Association has assured us for years is “safe”.
Last summer the government disputed this nonsense – after decades of
grass roots movements proving scientific and clinical evidence over and over
that it is not safe. I had 20 diagnosis’ provided to me from various functional
medicine, Chinese medicine, etc practitioners – five years after seeing all
kinds of conventional health care practitioners who identified that I had
“fatigue”, and they did not have answers.
This story is all too common for millions with mercury or other chronic
conditions, as the ones I carried along with it. These events can be life shattering because
if a doctor can’t see it or understand it, then it does not exist and you are
crazy or lazy or whatever. “It is in
your head. ” I don’t know how many clients tell me the
doctor tells them that and by some act of God they eventually – sometimes 20
years eventually- seek CAM practitioners
and immediately get answers and start feeling better. The silver lining for me is that I have
recovered conditions and enhanced my health.
As a result of my ongoing professional education I can help others
acquire health and I can personally relate to their challenges. There is an “opportunity”, a natural growth
process available in everyone’s illness if they are willing to persist in
finding the health they need and rightly deserve – that will bring the body
back to balance. But, they should not
have to pay out -of -pocket expenses commonly in the areas of 50 – $75,
000. We are here to help each other and
“we can make the change” as a result.
Obama realizes we have to
undo many years of as he states “being unhealthy in this country” On the plan for a Healthy
America website, he proposes to 1) make Health insurance affordable &
accessible to all; 2) he will lower health care costs and 3) he will promote
public health via preventative services and enhance preparedness for terrorist
attacks and natural disasters. It goes on to explain on the website:
American people are too often offered two extremes – government-run health care
with higher taxes, or letting the insurance
companies operate without rules.”
plan goes on and states: The Obama’s plan will strengthen employer
coverage, make insurance companies accountable and ensure patients’ choice of
doctor and care without government interference. Cost of care may go down as much as $2,500 per year per
person. If you desire to change it, you
will have a choice of new, affordable health insurance options. Patients will
be able to make health care decisions with their doctors, instead of being
blocked by insurance company bureaucrats. Wow – what a concept. Finally, Obama states he
will make health insurance work for the People and businesses – Not Just
Insurance and Drug Companies. Clearly these
two entities are the main driving forces of our sick; rather that health care
system. Money, not the goal of health,
is the priority. This soon will change.
Is this enough…..What more do we need and how do we get it?
It is widely accepted across the practices of
western and eastern medicine; and now our government, that a common fundamental
scientific approach to treating and resolving chronic disease-an epidemic that now affects a reported 133 million
Americans and accounts for 78% of health care costs- has been needed for decades. I believe the numbers must be higher as many
people – like myself that have/had chronic conditions go unrecognized for
years. We can’t continue to afford the over two trillion dollars per year on U.S. medical
care. Further, 95 cents of each of
these dollars is for treatment of disease
after it is occurred. This is not efficient. Most of these dollars can be saved through
prevention and treatment with life-style changes – prior to their occurrence’s
The second item of highest
priority is that we need to create a much more “prevention focused”
society. We have too many convenient
choices, most of which lead to illness.
Too much processed foods, too many doctors willing to pass along another
medication to their client, too many doctors working on one patient and no one
communicating, too much stress and not enough places to release it, and too
much toxins in the environment as a whole…in our chemical laded foods, in our
water sources, in our teeth from our amalgam fillings, in our bodies form too
much medications and on & on. This
is not a purest belief, but rather the common components of what we in
integrative and healing medicines see daily as causes for illness. It is very
simple. We have more research than we
care to discuss that proves these are the main causes of not feeling well. Being overweight, depressed, dealing with
ADD, cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, diabetes are not seen in the
third worlds nations near the rates we have – if they even are seen. Many third world counties are healthier than
us because they don’t have these (vast and unhealthy) lifestyle choices, or
make these decisions. The “Getting back to Basics” trend will help here. The
Obama effect will help here.
Two significant Health Care events happened the week
of Feb 23, 2009 which will help in
formulating a new national health care
plan. One, the week-long discussions in Washington on
Integrative Health & Medicine. A
discussion between a panel of 4 Medical pioneers, some refer to as “The
“Fabulous Four”, talked at the U.S. Senate Hearings more than two hours, with the heads of the health care
reform committee to sell them their ideas that have already been proven to work
for years for thousands – where our
national system has failed. Please look at this very
revealing and poignant recording and consider passing it along to as many
people as possible. http://help.senate.gov/Hearings/2009_02_26/2009_02_26.html
I have been fortunate to have collaborated with 3
of the 4 panelist &/or their staff.
Dr. Mark Hyman MD: Functional Medicine specialist, Dr. Mehmet Oz:
cardiovascular surgeon, Oprahs MDs and
creator of HealthCorps, Dr. Dean Ornish:
Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, CA, and Dr. Andrew
Weil, MD: Mind Body Medicine Center and
Medical Resident Programs – all agreed with government on critical points some
where: #1-Integartive Heath Care is way
overdue, it was initiated into congress in the late 80s and little has been
accomplished. An Integrative medical model with the inclusion of many health
and healing modalities -which already have proven themselves – should be
available to everyone. A model that supports the treatment and resolution of
chronic disease and maintaining health and vitality. As a clinician, I coordinated 15 different
modalities into a small community hospital.
If this can succeed in an under subsidized community of the Berkshires
in Western, MA it can succeed anywhere. The methods go beyond this article,
let’s just say it is very doable and with little dollars needed. The only
hurdle was gaining physician “buy- in”.
#2- A new services of offering “health coaches” is needed in the
clinical system to guide people in the management of their own health files and needs. This is
something we do as integrative health practitioners. # 3- Health prevention in
the form of education must be infused in our cultural and lifestyle to help
Americans make and maintain positive health changes. # 4- All U.S. Medical School must require
Mind Body Medicine education.
Another event was The “Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health
of the Public “hosted by the National Academy of Sciences. For more on this, go to http://www.iom.edu/integrativemedicine. The results of this event will also
interface with the government health policy makers.
While the health care reform process
continues, we can continue to be a part of the change.
The Obama site above or americanhealthcarereform.org
has blogs and message links to share your ideas. Or gather a group at work or in your community
and forward your suggestions. In this
area, get involved locally via groups like “Capital Region Creating Wellness” or “Saratoga
Integrative Medicine Educational Network ” (SIMEN) which both can be found on a
Facebook search. Saratoga Integrative Practitioners Network is a great
source for services. www.sipn.info
Personal, Nutritional and
Environmental Medicine Tips: ( some of the biggies)
choices today will affect your health in the future.
#1 Listen to
Yourself. If your not getting your answers to your
medical and health care needs, find a place where you can. Speak to friends that have found help,
interview potential new doctors &/or CAM
providers. Most will (should) give you
the time for this.
And start using those that
feel right. The sooner you do this, the
sooner you will feel better.
#2 Be your own health advocate. No one else will. Keep your own records, ask questions, keep
all your providers unformed, you must manage your care. If you can’t, ask a
friend or family member or hire me to do it.
Nutritional: Your diet is a mirror of your health and visa versa.
#1 Eat real foods; and when you can’t eat foods
that are the closest to their natural state as possible.
#2 Eat organic or sustainable: local foods without added chemicals,
#3 Join a local co-op, use natural food stores,
join a CSA Farms www.localharvest.org/csa
#4 Drink a lof of non-chlorinated/fluorinated
water. Mostly away from meals.
#5 Know your food intolerances. These are very common and will act in your
body like a toxin and create chronic problems or increase them. Find a nutritionist experienced with
#7 Chew your foods to liquid
form before swallowing.
#8 Nutrients- beyond that
which is in Foods – supplements are needed to resolve conditions.
#9 Modify alcohol &
caffeine or eliminate completely – especially if excessive.
Environmental: Destress & detox on
a ongoing basis. All imbalances in the
body are secondary to stress and /or toxicity – from external &/or internal
Eliminate unnecessary meds, OTC meds, mercury from too much large fish
&/or amalgam fillings
Avoid Aluminum and
Teflon cookware. Use stainless steel, enamel, and iron.
Use natural skin and
body products. For example, most
lipsticks contain lead.
Use hair color treatments that are natural or that have less chemicals.
Electric Blankets and water
beds interfere with our natural energy
#6 Avoid deodorants that contain aluminum.
“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will
interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and
prevention of disease.” Thomas A Edison.
“It takes a lot of courage to release the
familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real
security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the
adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is
power.” ~~~ Alan Cohen
Mary Beth McCue RD, LDN, CDN
is a dietitian/NYS Certified Nutritionist recognized for her work in
Integrative and Functional Nutrition. By working with foods and nutrients, she
helps people support their bodies to resolve chronic problems from fatigue to over-weight.
With more than 20 yrs experience she offers Corporate, and Community programs,
and consults with individuals Saratoga Springs
and Malta. Mary Beth offers a complementary phone
consultation to potential clients. For
more information: www.SIPN.edu. To schedule a
consultation: SaratogaNutrition@earthlink.net or ph 518.257.6530.